Drug Intervention for Meth in South Carolina
What I enjoy the most about working in the intervention field is the bond that is created from the hours I spend working with the family. I typically spend one week working with each family before meeting with them. We spend time doing an initial assessment and reviewing treatment centers options and plans for where their loved one will go with me. Insurance, reputation, and geographic location typically play a role in deciding which rehab center to choose. We also spend time on the phone with each family member one on one discussing their role in the intervention and their role in the lives of the addict.
This intervention took place in Greenville, SC. I just happened to have a dear friend in Pelzer, SC who I met while training at a treatment center in Florida fifteen years earlier while he was a client there. My buddy Jeff was on standby in case I needed him at any time. The intervention was for a twenty-year-old, Ronnie Pernoid. Ronnie had a live-in boyfriend named Bobby. They both had severe drug issues, and meth was their drug of choice. Crystal meth users are my least favorite to work with, as they usually need at least one full day of abstinence before the drug is out of their system. Until the drug is out of their system, they are incapable of making a rational decision on their future.
In 2012, there were roughly 440,000 people regularly using meth in the United States.
The other problem in this particular intervention was that Bobby was a juvenile delinquent turned small-time criminal. He had a rap sheet for stealing cars, selling meth, and using meth. He didn’t have much family, and his mother was on board for having the two separated so that Ronnie could get help. He was a rough customer, and his family knew he was going to get in our way. They also know Ronnie was likely to want to hold off on treatment so that she could be with him. Just another day in the life of an interventionist.
Meeting the Family
Ronnie’s family was kind and motivated. I was able to meet with them in a conference room in Greenville. We had her grandmother, her father, her mother, and her sister attend. They were the perfect group. On the one hand, they let me do my job and took suggestions from me. On the other hand, they were willing to go to any lengths to get Ronnie the help she needed. I immediately bonded with the father. He was an ex-Marine and had spent time working with terrorists overseas. He was currently stationed in the South working in intelligence. He was passionate about his work and was able to pick up on the fact that I had the same love for and dedication to my job, and he liked that. The grandmother was a powerful and sharp woman. She was to be my go-to lady if Ronnie became a tough case, as Ronnie loved and respected her grandmother and didn’t want to hurt her. Ronnie’s mother played a reduced role in the intervention. Perhaps she was just uncomfortable. I spent a great deal of time with her one on one. Ultimately it was her decision to be more of a listener and less of a hands-on role. Ronnie’s sister was very helpful in providing me detailed info on Ronnie’s life and her addiction patterns. We had a good group and were making progress with the pre-intervention phase.
The father had enough anger, concern, and power to go drag his daughter to rehab. After all, this was the guy who put hooded Arabs on the plane to Guantanamo. However, there were two reasons why the father wasn’t able to get Ronnie to rehab without my help. 1) He didn’t know anything about addiction. 2) For Ronnie to have a chance in long-term sobriety, she would have to make the decision on her own, from her heart. I am an expert at getting addicts to make this decision. In fact, I rarely fail.
Getting the Boyfriend out of the Picture
So, we had an agreement. We were underway. We sat around and spoke about the boyfriend who was clearly in our way. I repeatedly asked the father to leave the boyfriend alone and merely scare him off. I explained that if he touched his daughter’s boyfriend, he would just upset her more and distance her from where we needed her to be. Night came, and the family went home. They were nervous, but all families are nervous the night before an intervention.
The following day, we had already planned on doing the intervention at Ronnie’s mother’s house. The grandmother was there, and Ronnie just thought it was a routine visit with her family. I got picked up at my hotel by the father, who was already boiling with anger. I said, "Look, I will make you a deal. If you are unable to contain yourself, don’t worry. I will handle it. We may just have a longer day than needed, but I will patch it up." He nodded his head. We got to the house of his ex-wife and the house where Ronnie lived. We parked up the street and waited. Sure enough, the boyfriend emerged from his car, injecting what was likely crystal meth. "Mother-f___er," the dad screamed as he zoomed across the lawn, destroying it in the process. He got out of his Jeep and charged at the boyfriend instinctively, looking for blood. I grabbed his arm, looked at the boyfriend, and said, "Get the f__k off this property before this man puts you in the hospital." He was gone in sixty seconds.
Ronnie came out swinging, punching, and screaming at her dad. He took my advice and let her blow off her steam. Within seconds I had gotten in front of her. "I am an addiction specialist from out of town. I am here to help your family ultimately help you make a major decision with your life, related to substance abuse and finding happiness." I instructed the father to go inside the house and wait with the mother, grandmother, and sister. I said to Ronnie, "Do you mind telling me about all the things in your life that just suck right now." "Well,” she replied, “I hate my boyfriend, my family thinks I am addicted to meth just because I bang it in my arm once in a while, I have one pair of jeans, I don’t have a job, I can’t afford to get my roots highlighted, I am breaking out, I am not sleeping, I don’t have any money at all, and my father is here, who I hate." I offered to fix every issue she had if she was willing to sit with me, as her ally, and let her family open their hearts to her. She stared at my boots for fifteen minutes and eventually looked up at me and smiled, lit a Marlboro, and invited me in to sit down with a very nervous but willing family.
Ronnie immediately went to snuggle with her grandmother. Her mother was bright red with her eyes full of tears. Her sister was stone cold but fine. Her father gave me a wink and nodded his head at me. He knew we were about to win. "Dad is going to pay for that lawn," he said. The whole room broke out in hysterical laughter. "On a serious note, Ronnie, your family wants to share with you how worried they are about you," I said.
Taking a Chance
Afterwards, Ronnie requested that we move on from the family intervention and that she speak with me on the couch directly and in private. Her family agreed and went outside. She rambled on about her life and problems. I noticed foam in the corners of her mouth. Her eyes were huge. She was grinding her jaw from side to side. I noticed a puncture wound on her arm. She was totally high on crystal meth. "Ronnie, I want you to go to a 28-day program. While you are in there, I am going to work with your family to have all of your personal needs met, including a car. You need to go today though. You can't stay here another day." The problem I had was that because she was so high, the intervention was likely pointless and would not persuade her. But I knew I had a chance. "You are going, and that’s that," I said.
Three hours later, we were rolling over the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, with Ronnie chain smoking. We stopped a few times to get her something to eat. We also bought her some clothes and personal items. I instructed the family to hold off on letting her call her boyfriend, for now. Everyone was calm. Everything was ok. We got lucky. I usually don’t take full control of an intervention because it doesn’t work. The addict needs to hear certain things from the family and decide to try to love themselves again. I was not one hundred percent confident in the long-term effects of this intervention, but everyone seemed to be comfortable with the outcome. Luckily, as of March 2019, she has six months sober and goes to Narcotics Anonymous daily. No boyfriend, no meth. She even calls me once in a while to touch base and thank me.